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English Language Institute Reflections AN ANTHOLOGY

College of Staten Island Center for Global Engagement SPRING 2019

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English Language Institute Reflections: An Anthology Reflections is a collection of writings by the students of The English Language Institute ELI Faculty Drew Bostinto David Bridston Keerti Arora Alina Laboy English Language Institute College of Staten Island City University of New York 2800 Victory Boulevard Building 2A, Room 206 Staten Island, New York, 10314 Email: Website: www

** Please note that these student writings do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The English Language Institute and the College of Staten Island.

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INDEX Center for Global Engagement English Language Institute Introduction 1. My Special Place 2. My Story in a Special Place 3. Jordan-Saudi Arabia 4. Finding my First Love 5. The Lost City of the Incas 6. My Favorite Place When I was a Child 7. My Haven of Peace 8. My Grandparents’ House 9. Darzeze Beaach 10. Chilchotla, my Special Place 11. My Oasis 12. My New York 13. My First Competition 14. The Last Good-Bye 15. My Host Family in the USA 16. A Camel for a Donkey 17. My First Paragliding Flight

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Center for Global Engagement The overarching thrust of the Center and its activities is to be the driving force behind infusing the campus with ideas and activities that support comprehensive internationalization. The broad goals set forth below are designed to enhance comprehensive internationalization on the campus: 

Offer unique programming for students, faculty, staff, and the local community that serves the diverse needs of the broad spectrum of constituencies interested in international education, ideas, themes, and activities.

Expand the international outreach of the College including new opportunities for joint research and scholarship through cooperative partnerships and programming at home and abroad.

Infuse the curriculum with global learning so that all students are presented with opportunities that promote global-mindedness, cultural diversity, and international understanding.

Position the College of Staten Island as a premier destination for international students and scholars though rigorous academic offerings, innovative programming, and welcoming policies.

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Encourage the participation in international educational opportunities and intercultural programming woven throughout the curriculum. English Language Institute The English Language Institute (ELI) offers an exciting and innovative academic program for students learning English as a second language. Our course of study is designed to challenge and engage students. Students are immersed in the language, culture, and the ethnicity of New York City. At the English Language Institute, we understand that learning English can be a difficult task. Our experienced and dedicated instructors prepare and guide students through an amazing journey. With patience and compassion, instructors encourage students to reach their goals and attain academic excellence. Students in our program are entitled to use all the facilities available on campus such as the pool, tennis, basketball, racquetball courts, and fitness center. Students can also attend any lectures or workshops they feel would enhance their own learning experience. The English Language Institute (ELI) at the College of Staten Island offers programs in English and cultural orientation to international students, professional and business people, visitors, and members of the local community.

ELI provides a supportive environment for language learning: small classes, individual attention, highly qualified faculty, and innovative teaching approaches help students acquire confidence and develop fluency and accuracy in English in an efficient and enjoyable way. Through special focus classes, field trips, and visits to the unique cultural institutions of New York City, students receive an orientation to American culture and an introduction to the US system of higher education. Programs are offered at all levels of proficiency, from beginner to advanced. Courses are designed to address the needs of students who require English for academic, professional, or personal reasons. 6|Page English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

Introduction The following anthologies are entirely prepared by ELI students during the semester term they spend studying at the English Language Institute (ELI) at the College of Staten Island/CUNY. They prepare this academic work while having classes of grammar, reading and writing, communications, and TOEFL preparation workshops, with the supervision of their ELI teachers. Topics are chosen by ELI students and they reflect personal points of view of the topics selected and facts and information researched by them. ELI students dedicate time to make the best articles and carefully prepare their essays in and outside class. All ELI students participate, from beginning to advanced level. ELI wants to show their work considering their English level in order to become an academic tool for future English-learning students. Most of all, ELI wants to show content related to topics students may have experienced while studying English in New York, an important topic in their home country, a current issue, or any other topic they decided to write about. ELI is very proud of the academic work that represents the outcomes of each student, who not only learns English as a language but also is capable of expressing meaningful content-based language. Enjoy reading the anthologies!

English Language Institute College of Staten Island

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ELI student: Bulhakova Safiie Ukraine My Special Place I never thought that it would be so hard for me; at the time it seemed just like parting with a piece of myself, but I was completely wrong. My parents decided to move to another city. It was unusual and sad. I loved the city in which we lived before: a small, cozy and warm city near the Black Sea coast. I was born there, and I found many wonderful friends. All my childhood memories remained there: loss, happiness, grief. I really did not want to part with this city, filled with the love and happiness of my childhood. My heart and thoughts were there, but physically I had to move to a new place I knew nothing about. And so, on one of the hottest and sunniest days of August, my family and I, with our suitcases and also with thoughts about the future, entered our new home. My first impression of this house was an ordinary, unpromising simple feeling; I could not even imagine that this place and my room would become so special to me. Initially, I was very sad and wanted to return, I rarely had fun and was discouraged, as if all my joy had stayed in that city. At that time I didn’t know how many good and funny moments would happen in this house, in this room. In this house there was a room allocated especially for me and my sister. The room was spacious, as it could easily fit ten or twelve pianos, but we only had one (which we were sometimes extremely happy about, because we didn’t have to play at the same time ). Every time when the homework was done, the room was cleaned, and we didn’t have anything to do, my sister and I found a way to cheer ourselves up, trying to not think about and miss the past. There were many ways of doing so and each one is special in its own way, although I will tell you only one. As you probably already realized, my sister and I can play the piano. So, one of our favorite forms of entertainment was to invent different compositions and organize concerts for each other and in front of the whole family. In those moments we had so much fun that we forgot about time and laughed while continuing to play and invent different songs, playing along with the piano. And the most fun "performances" were when my sister played the piano, and I, with a serious look, clasped my hands together with one palm up and one palm down and kept my back straight as if I was on a stage, trying to pretend to be an opera singer. Often our little brother helped us, trying to press the keys with his little fingers, 8|Page English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

saying he was playing “Something very beautiful”. Once I came up with a melody that could wake up a person on the 10th floor, even though we lived on the first floor. I even named this “composition”, though it didn’t fit the melody type at all. I will never forget all our faces, filled with impetuous laughter and eyes filled with tears, all the while trying to grab some air for a new wave of unbridled fun. Laughter flowed all over the apartment, fingers jumping on the keys, not trying to stop and continuing an incredible rush of joy. There were many moments like this and they were all different. I am so grateful for everything and everyone for these moments, because they were full of kindness, cheer and very special to me, especially when we spent them with the family. Remembering this and telling everyone about it always puts me in such a wonderful mood. Having lived in this house, in this room for about 5 years, I realized how much had happened in this place. The amount of pleasant memories, joy and laughter which occurred in this small cozy corner made it so special for me. I will always go back there with a smile on my face and happiness in my soul.


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ELI student: Elvira Krestovska Ukraine

My Story in a Special Place So many interesting stories happened to me on a health track inside a park in my native city of Odessa. It’s a very beautiful road that extends four miles near the shore of the Black Sea. Everything for me circled around the sea in Odessa. Probably you remember these words from the movie Knockin' on Heaven's Door, “You’ve never seen the ocean? Don't you know what happens when you get to heaven? In heaven, all they talk about is the ocean. How gorgeously beautiful it is. And all the sunsets that they saw. How you could feel the sun lose its strength. And how the cool water splashed forward and the only fire left was the fire in their souls. And you? You can't say a thing, because you've never been there. Up there, you'll be nothing but [an] outsider.” The sea creates a special atmosphere in every branch of life in Odessa. You can tell that the sea is the soul, a place of power in my homeland. Maybe this is why all the fun is near those waves, views, shores, this power of nature. However, almost two years ago at the end of April, my boyfriend wanted to ride a bike with me on the health track. So I said “Yes, but first, I want breakfast together.” Of course, after our usual romantic weekend breakfast we went to bike. All of the prior week it was cloudy and rainy all day long so it was logical that when the sun finally showed us its rays, my boyfriend wanted to spend time with me. The weather was as excellent as my mood. I was full of breakfast and while I was biking I saw next to me a man with whom I am in love. I didn’t expect anything on this day, maybe only a manicure in the evening. And in the end of the health track we stopped on our special slope. We hugged and looked at the sea, but longer than usual. I wanted to bike to the cafe already but Pavel stopped me. He got on one knee and asked me, “Will you marry me?.” I was confused a lot and halted my breath. I couldn’t say anything, so I just looked at him and at the ring and was silent. Finally he asked, “Will you say something?” I said “Yes”. We kissed, hugging, but we didn’t know which finger we needed to put the ring on. We asked some people below and they clapped for us and told us the right finger.

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Once upon a time before, Pavel made the proposal, after a club night we biked home at 4:00 a.m. down the health track. I wanted to sleep and I had no energy to bike, but Pavel motivated me every mile. It was fun. He wanted to swim at sunset, but I was so tired and I thought that he will forget about it at the end of the road. He forgot and we returned a little bit to the first path by the sea. It was an unforgettable feeling to swim in the sea at sunset with my love. The water was extremely cold.

Then we sat on the bench together and he rested his head on my legs. Suddenly we realized that one lady was taking photos of us. It was hilarious. We said hello to this lady. Her name is Olga, she is a journalist and she is an early bird. She wakes up every single day at 5:00 a.m. no matter what and goes to take photos of the sunset. We exchanged Facebook pages, said “Good morning!” and she continued her early morning promenade. The next day we saw our photos on her Facebook page, and Pavel reposted this and after that, everyone from his family, relatives and friends knew that I exist and how I look. Accidents are not accidental. Maybe it’s true. I am grateful to the energy of the universe for those moments of happiness in my life. In my opinion not always everything interesting could happen with you because of your activity. It’s also about the place that you choose. It is exactly the place that attracts people.

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ELI student: Hamza Omar Haimour Jordan Jordan-Saudi Arabia When I was 18 years old, I was living and going to school in Saudi Arabia. In my free time, I used to go into the desert with my friends. We were usually a group of 12 people. We used to go by car, and the drive into the desert could take up to three hours. When we reached our destination, we would collect firewood, make a fire and brew Arabica coffee and tea. After having refreshments, we would ride camels through the sand dunes and explore the surrounding area. The sand dunes went on forever and the sky was blue and gigantic, and during the daytime the desert would get very hot, but as the evening set in, the temperature cooled down considerably.

After returning to our campsite at the end of the day, we would sit down and talk and joke and laugh. Then we would cook our dinner – usually a meat dish called “kabsah” with rice 12 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

and satisfy our hungry stomachs. When we finished eating we would clean up and sit around the fire telling stories or singing songs until at last we would fall asleep under the stars. On the second morning we woke up at sunrise, and we made our breakfast. Breakfast always consisted of several varieties but the main dish often a dish called ‘’mahmos’’. After that we cleaned the place, and we gather our purposes and leaved.

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ELI student: Gina Herrera Colombia

Finding My First Love It was September 15, 2012 the day that I found my first dog on the street. I had been walking by that park around 20 minutes while I waited for my friend, and in the pasture the smallest dog cropped up right in from of me. I glanced around the park, and nobody was around. Immediately I thought that I had to bring him with me because he was drenched, alone, really dirty and in need of rescue by someone.

I arrived at home and I realized that was a female dog, my first dog. The next day I named her Lola and I was so happy because I felt the placidity of rescuing someone’s life, this small life. For many people she could be an insignificant life, but I have been loving animals (especially dogs) since I was very little, so it was a feeling that you cannot even name; you feel the happiness and satisfaction going into your body, crossing everywhere. Feeling her body in my arms, small, furry and soft as cotton, with a white spot on her chest. Those big dark green eyes looking at me with all the tenderness and love that nobody can imagine, her

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little wet nose in the shape of a heart and her tail moving from side to side. I figured out that every place that I would visit with Lola will always be my favorite. A couple of weeks after that day, I went to a park in Bogota called Simon Bolivar to play with her. Seated there seeing in the shadows of those big trees in the lake, feeling the warm and soft wind on my face, my adorable Lola trying to run everywhere with her small paws, hearing the laugh of the children playing, the ducks swimming in the lake with a blue and immense sky on everything, I could feel like I was in an igloo. Immediately I thought that this sky was the most amazing part of that view and that against the indelible blue sky with white clouds, everybody and everything is small and insignificant. With that picture in front, I thought that day that that small spot on the grass under that incredible sky, in front of that amazing view, would be my favorite place ever. However, through time I found out that it doesn’t matter how beautiful and peaceful a place is, the feeling of the perfect and favorite place is only going to be if we have a dog next to us.

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ELI student: Katia Morales Peru

The Lost City of the Incas When I was a child, studying Peruvian History, one of my dreams was travel to "The Lost City of the Incas" Many years later I got the chance to go there, I was really excited about the whole trip. That was in June 2011 which is the perfect season to visit this mystical and majestic place, I arrived to Cuzco after 1 hour and half by plane, i got there I found the surprise we had to travel 4 hours by bus, 1 hour and half by train, and 20 min by bus or you could choose walking. I choose walking, at 5:00 am, while we were ascending the cloudy clouds were taking off, there were abundant plants, alder, palm trees, ferns and many species of orchids in addition an impressive variety of butterflies and mosquitoes flying and making us company, It was a hike with high altitude, we appreciated the valley, the river and the Andean lifestyle, the classic and colorful ponchos, llamas and alpacas walking in that natural environment, and stone houses.

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Finally we had arrived, there were many ceremonial temples built with immense rocks of almost 1000 tons with angles that fit perfectly each other, with carvings similar to the Egyptian pyramids, I kept sitting for a while admiring the site, you’re also marveling at the brilliance of the Incas and their culture, I couldn't stop thinking how the Incas did to carry these heavy stones to this mountain that is located at (8,000 ft).

If someday, you have the opportunity to be there, you could see and feel like you’re discovering something for the first time when you step onto the sacred grounds especially if you take the Incas Trail. Machu Picchu is the holy grail of all backpacker destinations and is certainly deserving of bragging rights. You’ll never stop telling people that you visited this incredible place. You’ll never forget your trip to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Make sure to take plenty of pictures because you’ll want to relive these memories for the rest of your life.

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ELI student: Marcia Aguirre Peru

My Favorite Place When I Was a Child I think we all have a beautiful place in our mind. I have a wonderful place that made me happy a lot of times, years ago. But sometimes I think that I am the only person who likes this place and I'm asking myself if this place will be as beautiful as I thought when I will go back to visit it again. Perhaps I made it beautiful in my mind. This place is meaningful to me because it is part of the country where I grew up and is part of my childhood. This place is a small piece of the Yauyos Mountains, in a town named Laraos. My grandmother had a house near the central part of the city and summer after summer spent two or three months during the school holidays. I grew up admiring from my bedroom window the beauty of the mountains, always exploring with my eyes the forest or the meadows, looking for a clean and quiet place. Moreover, I found one on a hill in the back of the town. It is about 100 feet square, it has seven old trees, wild flowers and a lot of bugs and ants during summer time.

I used to go there to sit down on a rock and watch the town and my trees. There was a very old tree, a maple tree, with a huge trunk. The others were smaller, three in the back, three on my left side and the old maple tree on my right. There were flowers, many kinds, white, 18 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

yellow, purple and blue. It was nobody's place. Nobody owned that hill, but it was beautiful and peaceful and I dreamed many times about a white house over there. I think that, these kinds of places are meaningful to people because they are natural and people can be there alone, away from their everyday life. I used to go there to be alone or to dream with my eyes open admiring the blue sky or the clouds. I liked to go there to lay down on the grass, listen to the wind, kiss the flowers and watch the leaves moving. It was hard to go up the hill to get there, but I wanted to see everyday my seven trees, to see how the color of the leaves changed and to feel the softness of the grass. I can say that I spent the best years of my childhood there.

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ELI student: Barbara Walek Poland

My Haven of Peace When we return to our childhood memories, it is usually best to remember those moments in which there is nothing special. It was just another afternoon spent with my parents and my siblings, yet there was something magical in it. However, one afternoon was different than others. On a bright, sunny day in June, when I returned from school, I went as usual with my younger sister to our tree house. It was so hot and humid outside. Through the window, on my right in the distance, I could see a small river which was flowing slowly, and on the left stretched out beautiful colorful trees, maples and oaks. Nearby in the neighbor’s backyard was a playground with slides and swings. There were children playing with each other. The garden had a palette of various warm colors and different flowers, for example red roses, yellow tulips and blue forget-me-nots. The tree house was vibrant with their scent, and bees were flying from the nearby meadow. Butterflies were dancing on the flowers and flew into our tree house. The birds were chirping, singing their merry little tunes and flying high in the sky. My sister and I were also playing with dolls, and after half an hour, my sister told me that she was going back home to do her homework. I stayed in the tree house. The sky was blue and none of us predicted what was about to happen. Within minutes the same sky unexpectedly was covered with black clouds. Suddenly, large but rare drops began to fall to the ground, leaving large spots on the sidewalk. There were lightning bolts in the distance by the river. Children from the neighborhood quickly began running back home. But not me, because I still was in my little refuge. The walls were painted in three different colors: white, blue and purple. The colors of the walls made it a very warm and cozy room. That is why I decided to stay, because the house, which was the size of a twin bed, made me feel safe and comfortable, and I could watch what was happening. Large drops were visible all the time, until red chaos broke out. It was hard to see anything because a wall of rain was already pouring from the sky, and the wind almost overturned the bench which was in my backyard. But still I did not feel any danger in my oasis, because I knew how well and solid that house was built by my father and brothers. The path which was in the middle of the backyard turned into a river that ran to the drain well at high speed. I heard people 20 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

screaming and running to their homes on the street. Suddenly the tree which was standing in the right part of my garden was hit with a huge force of lightning and many branches were broken. The lightning, bright and incandescent, illuminated the dark clouds and exposed my surroundings momentarily, and then was gone. It was stabbing like a knife, flashing blindly through the air. The entire sky seemed to be scorched by the light, revealing heavy, dark clouds where the sky once looked dark and starless. My window was my entertainment screen. The scent of the thunderstorm was both stale and fresh at the same time. I smelt the odor, almost dirty and rusty, and on the other hand it was like freshly picked grass or flower stems. Steam came from the hot roads and concrete, injecting the air with the smell of tar. It tickled my nose and caused me to sneeze. Hearing the thunderstorm was like hearing Mother Nature’s percussion instruments. The thunder, low and rumbling like a kettle drum, was announcing the arrival of the storm. The drops hit my tiny roof, but did not make me nervous. Somehow it was just in a relaxing way. I curled up in my small bed, pulled a blanket to my chin and was listening the music of the rain. However, I felt a cold shiver all over my body. The wind was howling, and the leaves from trees were rustling. I was all by myself caught in this storm. Nobody else was outside. They went inside to cover up from the storm. I held myself tightly. I closed my eyes just as another flash of lightning bolted down from the sky. The thunder rolled again for a really long time. Another lightning bolt came from the sky. A cracking sound of thunder made me shiver again. When I opened my eyes, I could see from afar the storm terrorizing the town in the distance. Luckily, the summer storm ended quickly. When I looked out of the window, I saw something horrible. One of our ducklings was stuck in the fence between two wooden pickets. And without even thinking about it, I ran out of the house. Everything was wet, and I missed a few steps on the stairs. I fell on the ground, but I was able to stand up and save the duckling. The tree house was above the ground about ten feet, but I fell down from not that high. Fortunately, the heavy rain stopped and it was only drizzling and the wind only moved the leaves gently. From behind the clouds the sun began to come out and everything returned to normal. So, I went to the animal housing and returned the lost duckling to her mother who seemed to be very happy to see me with her child. The air after the storm was fresh and crisp. When I came back home, my parents were worried about me and breathed a sigh of relief when they saw me. I was soggy, and I had only a big bruise on my right leg from the fall 21 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

from the stairs, but I saved the cute duckling and saw a beautiful thunderstorm. At the same time, I felt so tired and so happy. It was an amazing day.

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ELI student: Sara Nesimi Albania My Grandparents’ House When we got the assignment to describe a place that is important to us, I immediately thought of my grandparents’ house. I couldn't wait until my summer break, so I could finally go there. Their house was located on a farm in a small village. It was a two-story house, surrounded with tall brick walls and it had a big backyard. The first thing you noticed when you entered the house was the big window revealing the animals. They had a cow and two horses. I named one of the horses Gjoka and I loved riding it. He was about 6 feet tall and it wasn’t that easy for me to get on top of him. His skin was white , as well as his hair, which I used to put in braids. Gjoka had blue eyes and long eyelashes, and I tried to put mascara on him once. For some reason he would always tear up when I used to leave. Maybe because he really liked me or maybe they were happy tears. I used to bother him a lot, so you never know… The house inside was very simple. My favorite room was the attic, where I used to play all the time with my cousins. The ceiling was low but it was as big as a normal classroom. As long as our toys could fit there, for us it was more than enough. Also it had two windows which overlooked the whole farm. Seeing my grandfather taking care of the animals was one of my favorite views. He would treat them as if they were human, because that’s how he was. He was a loving and generous man who was always ready to help others. Once he got his pension, he certainly had to share it with all his seventeen grandparents. Even though he wouldn’t have enough money to reach the end of the month, he wouldn’t care. All that mattered for him was to make his “babies” happy. The last time i went there was four years ago. It was snowing outside and I was having a hot chocolate with my mom in front of the fireplace. It was so nice and warm and the only thing you could hear was the crackling of the wood burning. Suddenly, the phone rang and it interrupted “our moment “. My mom was closer to it, so she picked it up. When I turned around I saw that her face was pale, her hands were shaking and she was breathing heavily. I just got the worst news in my life. My grandfather passed away. We started crying and hugging each other like never before. I immediately, called my father, who was working, to take us there. As soon as we walked in, my favorite place didn’t seem the same anymore. My favorite person wasn’t there waiting for me. Everyone was devastated and you could see the 23 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

sadness in their eyes, as tears were dripping down their face. I couldn’t believe that my grandfather was just an angel now, until I saw his coffin in the middle of the living room. One of the hardest things ever was saying goodbye to him and knowing that a piece of my heart would always be missing.

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ELI student: Sejvalda Hasani Albania Darzeze Beach Most of the time people do not remember their daily activities, but when something unexpected and significant happens, it can be memorable for the rest of their lives. Some of us have beautiful memories related to an event that happened in our lives and others have some events they don’t want to remember because they would remind them of their old scars. These memories connect us to people or places. Very often a song, a scent or a small detail our eye catches on the go can take us back in time. Sometimes in one’s life there are some events that teach us a lesson and end up becoming a guideline in life. There are many events that stand out in my life that were remarkable and helped me grow stronger and wiser. One of these events happened in one of my favorite places on earth. It has nothing to do with the fact that it’s my favorite place, but it changed my perception of life forever. Childhood years are crucial to establish our identity; who we are and where we belong. The sea was strongly present in my childhood. When people ask me what’s my favorite place to be, I tell them about Darzeze Beach.

Now I’m 7479,41 kilometers (km) away from there. Traveling away from home, I can’t avoid the moments of homesickness. Although one meets lots of people, sometimes the loneliness wraps you and there’s not much you can do about it. But I have the sea. As soon as I sit at 25 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

the shore, half of the sadness is gone. Somehow the infinity of it relaxes me. My home is somewhere, not too far from what I can see. Friday, June 15th 2006, my parents took a day off and we went to the beach. It was windy in my town but still, the temperature was higher than 38 degrees. It was even more windy by the beach. The sea looked different, tinged with a grey-silver color. The water was completely still. My sister and I sat on our towel while our parents were discussing if it was safer leaving before the storm came. With a big wave, you would usually try to get as far out as possible into the open sea. The deeper the water, the weaker the wave. I didn’t realize what was really happening and ran into the burning sand to get to the water. For a moment I was out of my parents’ sight. The storm was coming and the waves were getting bigger and bigger. The giant waves appeared out of nowhere without warning and within a minute I was underwater. My sister screamed so my parents came running and pulled me out. I was coughing and felt dizzy. The adrenaline shooting through my veins made me feel insane, but it was good to feel the ground under my feet again. Being as young as I was, I didn’t understand the importance of what exactly happened. Looking back on it now, I see how blessed I was to have my parents there in the right moment.

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ELI student: Estefany Balderas Nanco Mexico

Chilchotla, my Special Place You can be anywhere in the world, so close and so far away, but your heart always belongs to that place where you are happy. Contemplate the beautiful landscape through the glass of the bus window and have another perspective of that place. From this point, you can appreciate a small town surrounded by mountains and hills. The green mountains are bestowed the hundreds of pines that are found in them, as the bus advances you can see the plum, pear and peach fruit trees and the extensive corn fields ready to be cut and cooked. Little by little, we can distinguish the first houses and the big river that has a large influx of crystal clear water flowing through the rocks welcoming to Chilchotla.

When arriving at the bus station, it is enough to walk one street to get to my grandparents' house where I grew up and I usually visit every summer. During one of those warm days, my siblings and I usually visit one of the waterfalls that is only 20 minutes walking, in the top we can see a path of steps that leads that precise place between the falling water and the rocky area, we can feel breeze of the water falling and the smell of the great variety of vegetation and flowers that find there. 27 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

That same path leads to a wooden suspension bridge that allows you to have a spectacular view of the water, giving way to a beautiful phenomenon in a ray of white light of the sun that crosses the small drops of water that fall and form several rainbows. You can hear the birds singing and the sound of water making contact with the ground and the smell of fresh air gives that feeling of freedom.

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ELI student: Anoushka Sefu Pala Gabon

My Oasis One of my favorite places in the world is Times Square. Located in Midtown Manhattan in New York City at the intersection of Seventh Avenue on 42nd Street and Broadway. I like Times Square because it is the first touristic place I've visited in the United States. This is the place where I can be myself without fear of being judged because everything is allowed, even walking topless regardless your gender. Over there, I can observe people from different nationalities with different accents, amateur artists dancing and or take pictures with friends on the red carpet in front of "forever 21", listen to music and sing at the top of my lungs. In times square, the statement "the light will inspire you" from Alicia Keys� song "New York" makes perfect sense to me because this mythic place is so illuminated by lights coming from the buildings. But, I can also relax and eat halal food or get cone ice cream by the truck food store. On top of this, many activities can be done such as shopping , watch oneself in the giant screen, read, eat exotic foods in all the restaurants around and a lot other things. Times Square is a special place for me because I also had unforgettable stories happening to me during my first steps in this country when the English language was for me a puzzle of which I understood only a few words. As far back as I can remember, Times Square has always been a dream place to visit, but more: a dream of life. So the day after my arrival in NYC, I took my courage with both hands and the map of NYC and headed to Times Square. When I imagined that I finally could sing at the top of my head: "I want to be part of it , New York, New York". When I reached my destination, I almost had a taste of "too much": The buildings were "too high" The agitation "too little intense" The place was "too much " above my expectations, It was really too illuminated to my liking, too crowded of people and more than anything it smelled food as a lot of trucks were out making fast food .I got scared. I got vertigo, I wanted to go back to my place, and my head was spinning. I calmed down and finally decided to let myself guide by the ambiance of the place which I did for over two hours when I finally realized I did not tell my cousin that I went out and I had not gotten yet get a sim card for my phone that would allow me to communicate with her to let her know my exact location. Reality hit me, I was lost at night in a place I only saw on movies even with 29 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

the map in my hands I didn't know exactly where I was, and Times Square is big. I shyly approached two cops and with a broken to mediocre English and an almost inaudible voice I tried to make them understand that I was lost. I can remember hearing them asking me how I got there but my vocabulary was so little to nonexistent that I couldn't explain them that I only reached my destination safe because in the train while doing my sign language asking people where was times square I encountered three French men that told me where to get off. No one time I thought about my way back. One of the police officers asked me if I knew my address, I showed it to him in a piece of paper. I was not expecting what came next. I guess they realized I had no idea about what they were trying to explain to me, one of them grabbed my hand and told me to don’t be scare all I had to do was to follow him, which I did and as we walked he was still holding my hand like a dad will do for his little girl. We finally got into a train station he took my map that I was holding with the other hand, he told me to take the train 2 uptown and to get off at 125th street and that I should pay attention to every single stop otherwise I will miss my exit. I made it safe this night and I am so thankful to have met patient people, to this day the notion of uptown and downtown remains forever in my mind. Another time, as I was shopping in times square I had my hands full of bags from clothing’s store such as H&M, Forever 21 , I stood near a kiosk to rest my arms when someone tapped on my shoulder, I had my earphones on therefore I did not hear nobody calling me. I turned myself and it was a cop. I was a little intimidated and asked him politely what he wanted, he told that he saw someone following too close, I immediately got panicked but then he told me that the man left as he saw him approaching me. He also stipulated that to make sure I am totally safe, we should exchange numbers, and if anything I could reach out to him and he could check on me from time to time. I laughed of relief so hard when I realized that this officer made this story up only with the intention to get my number. It was flattering, but I did not give it to him. When I think about Time square, I think of a refuge, a place where I can’t get lost, the reason why New York is being known as “the City that never sleeps”. Shopping Stores are opened up to 3 am, being a night owl, I could not dream of a better deal as shopping is a therapy for me. Being on the street of Times Square on a Sunday or a week day after midnight is for me a privilege that I cherish and never get tired of. A first time in Time Square is essential. It's like a representation of the all the city of New York. The particularity with this place was that the more I loved it, the more I live it in my own way.

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ELI student: Leonid Novozhilov Country: Russia

My New York I strongly believe that traveling & studying is a mandatory part of life! I have visited 43 countries. This is my 8th visit in the USA and 6th in NYC. But each time, I visited New York for a maximum of 1-2 days. Now, I have been living in NYC 4 months! I am seeing this city from different angles. This time, my experience is very new and different. Instead of hotels, I am living at a friend's house in Staten Island. I am also learning English at The College of Staten Island. This experience is very useful because I communicate with students and teachers. My classes at CSI have been informative because I visit different museums with classmates in New York. I am now living my dream life. One of my dreams was to study English in a real college! Living in New York gives me new opportunities. Every weekend, I walk in new parks in different boroughs of NYC. I have visited the following places in the last four months. 1. Manhattan: Battery park; Rockefeller Park; Teardorp Park; The High line park; Hudson River park; Madison Square park; Central park 2. Brooklyn: Brooklyn bridge park pier; Brooklyn Heights Promenade; Mein street park 3. Staten Island (Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach; Latourette Park). I also travelled to cities outside of New York. I visited Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. From 2012 to 2018, I visited seventeen states in USA. Twice, I drove from Florida to California by car. This time, I used all airports-- JFK, LaGuardia airport and Newark Liberty int airport. I think that JFK is the best airport in New York because Newark is small and does not have good organization for passengers. I did many things for the first time. I used the American intercity train, bought tickets to Broadway's musical, did weekly shopping in grocery supermarkets, saw a lot of different homes of ordinary Americans, talked with New-Yorkers who speak Russian, and those who don't speak Russian. In this way, I got to know about their life in the USA: where they work, where they build houses, which traditions they follow and so on. Also, I flew through the North Pole for the first time when I flew from NYC to Shanghai in April 2019. New York can be diverse. But everyone will find their NYC here!! And it's really cool!! 31 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

I want everyone to know that here it doesn’t snow longer than 3-4 days, the subway works 24 hours, and there are a lot of parks, museums and restaurants. There are many historical buildings (The flatiron building; The Empire state building; New York Stock exchange building...) and some historical bridges (Manhattan bridge, Brooklyn bridge, Williamsburg bridge, Queensboro bridge). The most important attraction of the USA is also in New York. It is the Statue of Liberty. There is a wider range (assortment) of food products than Russia. Now I feel like a New-Yorker! I will recommend everyone to study at CSI. Right now, my business is in travel and retail. I think about adding an ELI branch in in my business-case. I want to open ELI-branch in Moscow (Russia), and Bratislava (Slovakia) because I think education is a booming sector.

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ELI student: Ana Sofia Rubio Colombia

My First Competition Since I was 8 years old, I practiced horse riding and jumping. The horse is my favorite animal and I love practicing this sport because of the special connection that I can create with this animal. Not only is it about riding a horse, but it is also about trust, respect, and having a good contact with the horse. One should believe that their body and the body of the horse are one. Two years after I started learning this sport, when I was 10 years old, I had to practice for my first jumping competition. I was very nervous because I felt that I would not be able to complete all the obstacles, or fall. But what helped me the most to face those little fears was my horse. His name was Jackel. We practiced a lot and we knew each other very well. Jackel is very tall, his fur is chestnut in color and it has white spots. My first competition is one of the best moments and memories that I have in my life. I showed myself that I am capable. I learned a lot more about this sport. The happiness I felt after winning the competition has become my motivation to continue practicing till now. After so many years and several competitions, I can say that this sport is not easy and that in every competition I am always afraid but I love what I do. The most incredible thing about this is the support I have for my family. They always encourage me to be the best at what I do and learn from my mistakes because, of course, in some training sessions and competitions I had done badly. My mom has always been my biggest fan in all this. She has always been there for me to celebrate my achievements, console me for my defeats and to take care of me after each fall. Horse riding means a lot to me and it’s something that defines me.

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ELI student: Sofia Mendoza Colombia

The last good-bye How can you describe the last meeting between those who love each other but because of circumstances, one of them must leave? Every moment they spent together, is something that will remain in the memory and in the depths of each one’s heart. When they are saying their final words face to face, the words leave their mouth as if they had a life of their own. The promises grow with every second it takes to say goodbye, the feeling takes over both and they are not aware of what they are talking about. When everything is over, the mixed feelings emerge and everyone is left with their own doubts about what will happen in the future to each one of them. Nonetheless, they always imagine a future in which they are together and in which they are overcoming every obstacle that comes their way. When they are separated and are living in their respective places, things change, the vision of life that they have always had transforms. The person who stays in the place where everything happened, is the one who will suffer the most. This is because he/she has to face all the places that have memories all alone. The question that has been asked, after this is how much should I expect, when can I move forward, when can I trust again? What is known with certainty is that each one reacts to the last goodbye in a different way and that this word can generate many reactions in people.

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ELI student: Yuki Sawada Japan

My Host Family in the USA When I came to New York, United States of America on March 20, 2019, I decided to stay with a host family. My host family consists of a mother and her son. The mother is Christian. I have never been to a Christian Church in Japan. But, now, I usually go to the Christian Church with the mother and her cousin on Sunday. When I went there for the first time on Easter holiday, there were many people at the Catholic Church. At that time, I was thinking about why many people believe in God in the United States of America. I think they want to go to heaven. I believe God leads people to heaven. That is one of the reasons why they want to follow him. However, everyone has one reason why they believe in God. I think that this depends on the person’s values. My host family’s son doesn’t believe in God. He doesn’t have religion. So, even in the same family, different members have different religious values. Long time ago, Japan imported Buddhism from China. The Japanese have a traditional religion, Shinto, apart from Buddhism, but, we recognize it as an ethic or culture, not religion. We don’t have a particular God. We believe everything in nature should be respected and that everything has its own sprit. Now, in Japan, many people don’t have religion (about 50 %). Also, Buddhism is followed by about 34 % of the population. In addition, we have other religion. Japan is not such a religious place. but, we traditionally observe some ancient practices. In fact, on a whole, we don’t believe in any one God or religion. This is because, no religion is followed by 50% of the country. So, in Japan, people have freedom of religion. I really appreciate this about my country, because, it’s up to us to follow any religion or not. If somebody forces us to believe in religion, it becomes a problem. But, in Saudi Arabia, many people believe in Islam and most of the natives are adherents of the majority Sunni branch. In modern times, the Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam has been especially influential. In fact, people in Saudi Arabia cannot choose a religion. They cannot get married to people whose religion is different than theirs.

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In conclusion, it is up to you if you believe in religion or not. So, I hope we can have freedom to choose religion all over the world. I will keep learning about the religions of other countries.

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ELI student: Alejandro Riaño Colombia

A Camel For A Donkey I arrived on September 11, 2019 in New York, Date commemorating the tragic social event of 9-11 (Twin Towers). I traveled with a direct flight from Bogotá - Colombia to Newark (New Jersey). My only acquaintance was Gonzalo Villena who would become a father or hero, because it is he who guided me and advised me in the shortest possible time to start my new adventure in Staten Island. I began my studies in English at the College of Staten Island (CSI), after several years without being in a university. There I met a cultural diversity which makes me understand more about the realities of this world. It was a unique experience. So I began this new stage, coming to study English. I had my doubts but thought “YES!” I cannot forget that at first I left my classes crying because I did not understand. I wanted to run because the pain always took over. I said “Yes, I understand” to my teachers without knowing what they asked me. I think that is life. The challenges that you set for yourself to achieve your goal, does not matter the time but what does matter is the pleasure of being able to fulfill them. With or without English, I have been able to make my classmates and teachers laugh , and at the beginning when it cost me so much (now not much), I can say that it is easier for me to contribute some comments. I met nice people in my walks around the college like Rocio and Erika who were my first partners. Little by little I received the affection of Homero, a Colombian student. I also remember saying “Hello, how are you?” with Aiko (from Japan), and always found topics of conversation with my Brother Hamza (from Jordan). Without having basic English, we managed to form a great friendship. I think that I've learned about different cultures the most from my Arabic friends, and that's why today we have a deal: Hamza will give me a camel as a symbolic animal in his culture, and I'll give him a donkey (because I do not have that much money!) This is an icon of Juan Valdez in my country (the animal that transports coffee). Habebe, I will always remember you. It is also worth noting my other brother Angel (from Mexico) with whom I shared a month but the fact of being alone in this concrete city made us feel that we were friends for more than a month. This writing and this experience I dedicate to my friends, because in CSI I found not only a second language but my second family. Kathia Morales (from Peru), a 37 | P a g e English Language Institute – College of Staten Island

woman whom I admire and respect, could write much more. This is only a short story, but I will name the rest of the family who would be like my uncles in the family tree and this title corresponds to my Teachers: Tom, Gail, Drew, Kirtie and Alina. Thank you for your patience and for your efforts so that I can say a word and understand how to master a second language. Finally, I say goodbye to my adopted siblings, Ana and Sophie (My Colombianitas). Also my parcerito (friend) from Bolivia that even if their country does not have a sea it does not matter (he is Jimmy). Before I say goodbye I want to give a special greeting to my favorite African, Anuska who is imposing with her style and elegance, also her sensuality when dancing. To all those who I missed, thanks for accepting me in your lives I will always remember you. Remember, be happy and happy Christmas.

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ELI student: Roxanna Salazar Peru

My First Paragliding Flight I had always seen videos of people flying paragliding, but I never dared to fly because I was afraid of heights. One day, I saw an advertisement offering paragliding flights in the city where I used to live and I told some friends about it, who told me: "we have to do it, we are going with you" and I was encouraged to make the reservation day for the flight. I felt excited, terrified and anxious to finally fulfill my dream. When the day arrived, the emotion and fear were very strong but I was determined to do it. So when we arrived at the place where the flights were, I thought that an expert would go with me, because in the videos I had always seen two people flying together. They prepared me with the safety harnesses and asked who would be the expert who would fly with me and they told me: "you are going to fly alone, the instructor will give you the instructions by radio, you must do everything the instructor says, otherwise, you will fall". I felt very scared; I never thought I would do it by myself. Many things went through my head, but I was already there and decided that day would finally fulfill my dream. For the paraglide to take flight, you must run until the paraglide takes off. The first time I tried to take flight, the paraglide took off and when I got up, I lost my balance and fell face down, rolling on the sand of the field. I wanted to cry, I hit myself but they asked me if I wanted to try again and I answered, yes! I had not waited so long to give up so easily. When I tried again I ran faster and firmer; finally, the paraglide took flight with me. Nerves invaded my body but at the same time I felt very anxious and happy. I could not believe that I was flying, it was very exciting! I followed all the Instructor’s indications and I managed to fly without falling down or hurting myself. When I landed, my whole body was shaking but I felt like the happiest person in the world. This is one of the best memories I have to this day!

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Anthologies - English students' essays - English Language Institute - College of Staten Island/CUNY  

Anthologies - English students' essays - English Language Institute - College of Staten Island/CUNY

Anthologies - English students' essays - English Language Institute - College of Staten Island/CUNY  

Anthologies - English students' essays - English Language Institute - College of Staten Island/CUNY